This write up will come as no surprise to many of you. In fact, I’m sure you’ve told yourself and others close to you that you need to work on balance. How do you incorporate balance training into EACH day, and why? How do you train to be mentally, physically, and emotionally balanced? Read on.
It would be hypocritical for anyone to claim to be a master of balance, so let me start off by transparently admitting this article is as much for me as it is for you. My primary goal in writing and publishing this is to tangibly simplify balance so that we may find it each day. I’ll start with my thoughts, tips, tricks, and personal goals regarding internal balance and end with the same point regarding physical balance.
Emotional & Mental Balance
Do you consider yourself functioning at a satisfactory mental and behavioral level?
If you answered YES, skip this section and jump to physical balance. Namaste to you, my friend. If you answered NO, then carefully review the following three questions and responses!
How do I improve my emotional/spiritual/mental balance?
- Talk to someone. Communicating about your feelings is essential, especially if you feel isolated during these trying times. Deep conversations will not only bring value to your relationships, but also provide stimulating brain activity. According to a fascinating article in Psychology Today, communication impacts hormone release! If you are living in state of stress, with chronic high levels of cortisol, it’s a natural response to shut down. Opening up, sharing, listening, and engaging are effective ways to combat chronic stress. (Nicklas Balboa, Richard D. Glaser, Ph.D.)
- Eat and hydrate well; exercise (more details in physical section)
- Journal, Mediate, and/or Pray. Self-reflection may be intimidating, and that’s ok. You don’t have to do it each day, perhaps make it a habit on Fridays (more on that, too). Yoga is an excellent form of both physical and emotional balance training. If you are religious, spending time reading the history of your religion, following key leaders within your religion, and prayer are all things you may try to find both inner peace and balance.
- Take a break to do something you are good at. Whether its doodling on a piece of paper for 5 minutes or spending a weekend day immersing yourself in an old hobby you stopped making time for, it’s important to build our self-confidence with things we love and are successful at!
- Complete an act of kindness. It doesn’t have to be a grand act, or a massive, time-consuming ordeal. For example, I challenged myself to encourage someone new each day for a month by texting, calling, emailing, or writing a letter to someone I haven’t spoken to in a while. It took all of 3 minutes to complete each day, and hopefully started a chain reaction of positivity.
What realistic, daily practices can I put into place?
You may be rearing back internally with the ever-common excuse “Well all that sounds great, but I just don’t have the time!” You do. Simply put. If you don’t have the time now, it’s because you’re not making the time. Here are simple ways to put the previous segment into action:
- Swap out your social media scrolling for 5 minutes of journaling, or an act of kindness.
- Wake up 3 minutes earlier to do a simple yoga flow before heading to work so you feel centered, awake, and BALANCED.
- Drink at least 2 bottles of water throughout your day, and eat fresh, colorful meals. For more tips on this, visit my Meal Prep 101 blog, a streamlined guide to quick meal prepping for beginners.
- When looking at your day, insert moments for you to pray or meditate or stretch.
- On your lunch break, do something you’re good at! Choose one day a week, or a month, to journal.
- Commit to calling a friend or relative once a week to emotionally connect and decompress.
Why should I sacrifice time and energy on improving internal balance?
If you answered “No” to my opening question (Do you consider yourself functioning at a satisfactory mental and behavioral level) then its apparent something is missing in your life. I’m guessing you’re “doing ok, but not great” or “really struggling, but afraid to admit it / show weakness.” You’re not alone. Take the steps listed in the previous segment. Do not settle for anything less than real happiness. It may not be easy to pursue internal, personal growth, but the alternative is staying stuck.
How do I improve my physical balance?
As a movement specialist for over a decade, this is my favorite question to answer! The answer is to start at the bottom (your feet and ankles) and from the inside (deep core stability). From there, we work up and out. This means we train each joint, starting at the toes and ankles up to the knees and hips, spine and shoulders, to be stable. This will allow the joints to move more effectively.
What realistic, daily practices can I put into place?
Balance training is rewarding. If you spend just 5-10 minutes, 2-3 times a week focused on it, you will improve. Plus, the exercises aren’t strenuous. I challenge you to stand on one leg while brushing your teeth each day. Too easy? Try 10 single leg balance reaches on each leg, 10 single leg calf raises each day for a week, and 10 kneeling or full plank shoulder taps.(hold a plank, and touch the opposite shoulder with one hand before switching) That’s 3 exercises, 10 reps of each, every day for a week. It should take less than 5 minutes! If you would like more help with balance sequences, check out my YouTube page. I have several beginner sessions you can try!
Why should I sacrifice time and energy into improving external/physical balance?
Why, I’m so glad you asked! If you don’t’ take time to build your core and joint stability, your body adapts in a negative way. Movement will be limited, as your brain subconsciously knows a joint isn’t stable enough to allow a full range of motion. Eventually, these adapted and limited movements lead to an injury, typically one that seems like a silly, everyday type of movement. In order to move at your best, and feel your best, spending 5 minutes a few times a week to build your stability from the bottom to the top, and the inside out, will reap lasting physical benefits, both in injury prevention and athletic performance.
I hope this article inspires you to move with intention, reflect, communicate, and treat your body with kindness. You deserve to be happy, healthy, and balanced. ❤